How to make a serenity garden

Published 12:00 pm Friday, August 5, 2016

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By Colleen McChesney

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Close your eyes, take in a deep breath of fresh air, and slowly exhale. Imagine sitting on a cast iron wooden bench in a lush green garden filled with the sights of colorful flowers butterfly weed, tiger and spider lilies attracting monarchs, swallowtails and sulfurs.

Frogs, salamanders, and newts basking on flat rocks in the morning sunshine by cannas, hibiscus, hydrangea, white and purple echinacea, black-eyed Susan and painted daisies. Towering oaks, hickories, maples, elms, and willows — the scent of pines, coral honeysuckle, jasmine, lavender, roses, and crape myrtles.

Now listen to the sounds of hummingbirds and bees buzzing around feeders, the chatter of squirrels, followed by the chirps, tweets, and twitters of melodious songbirds, the rustle of a slight breeze through the treetops, lizards scurrying across the grass, babbles of a brook or a fountain splashing in the distant, you get the picture.

Enjoying this scene seems impossible these days, but sitting on my front porch with the start of summer (resting and relaxing) season here and a little bit of planning, it brings to mind memories of my grandfather’s reminder of the three steps to making and maintaining this perfect garden that we all want, using the ages old “Prayer of Serenity.”

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

With that being said and keeping in mind that the design of one’s garden being solely up to the individual, these steps will work on every garden type.

Accept the things that one cannot change in the garden:

There are some basic guidelines. Plants, regardless of which ones are chosen, have specific amounts of water, sunlight, soil type, and temperature to grow correctly. This is known as the needs. They also have pests and diseases to watch out for. Damage done by Mother Nature, also known as wildlife critters and weather conditions, are uncontrollable things too.

Change the things that one can in the garden:

The gardener can control/manage/adjust the amounts of needs to get different growth results and to help protect the plants. This also includes the maintenance of pruning when and if necessary, dividing/transplanting the plant for continued growth, or taking it out completely due to disease, damage or design (you decide the plant no longer serves its purpose) of the garden.

Know the difference in the garden:

This is the most challenging of the three steps especially when you’ve put so much time and energy in your gardening endeavors. After weeks, months, or perhaps even years of cultivating plants and making plans to attain your garden, what if you had to redo because of natural problems, or maybe your gardening tastes change, or you’ve grown older and can’t work as easily/don’t want to work so hard in the garden any more. Taking the first two steps into consideration gives you all the necessary information to make your gardens the Serene place to enjoy some comfortable time shared with family, friends, and to pass on the future generations.

Remember, even in nature no garden stays completely the same year after year.

The Lafayette County Master Gardeners is a service organization that provides assistance to the Lafayette County Extension Service. Master Gardeners receive university-based training and are required to sustain their training and service activities each year. To arrange for a free consultation with a Master Gardener about your gardening challenges, call the Lafayette County Extension office at 662-234-4451.